Category Archives: Arab-Israeli Conflict

Pallywood: The Damage of Media Malfeasance

Melissa Jane Kronfled of the WJC interviewed me today on Pallywood and its implications. She’s an excellent interviewer, and I stayed largely coherent despite my characteristic roundabout answers.

German Arrogance 2017

My colleague and correspondent Doyle Quiggle, who has lived in Germany for many years, has written a lengthy response to my article in the Tablet, which deserves its own post.

This outlandishly sane moral analysis of the European soul is Dr. Landes writing and thinking at his best. He lands well-deserved welting slaps to the souls of those Germans whose response to the Shoah has become preposterously morally disoriented, the kind of slaps Jack Nicholson gives Faye Dunaway in Chinatown to free her from the spell of her own moral mendacity.

However, far many more Germans today are either morally indifferent or morally arrogant (downright hubristic) than morally confused. In this regard, I worry about the rhetorical effectiveness of this piece.

Understanding German arrogance today as a rhetorical problem requires us to first understand that most Germans are devout, radical social constructivists who zealously believe that a human being is the sum total of the society in which he or she was socialized. If you are socialized in a more just society, so runs the enabling premise of their argument, then you are a more just person.

German arrogance today is rooted in a profound sense of their belonging to a social state that is far more superior (in their eyes) than the USA and Israel, and to most other European nations. They sincerely, almost naively believe that Germany has achieved, by dint of its own efforts, an order of magnitude greater social and economic justice than other countries, especially Israel and the United States.

Because they’ve been socialized in the more or less socialist state of a united Germany, they themselves are more just, more moral, certainly more politically correct citizens than Americans, Israelis, and most other Europeans (with the possible exception of Swedes whom Germans tend to revere as the archangels of social justice and egalitarianism). When they do provide a consciously worked-through argument for their moral arrogance today, it is from de facto grounds. Often, that argument goes no further than, “Germans save money, while Greeks and Spaniards and Americans buy everything with credit cards.”

The Small Kindness (Qur’an 107): A Magnanimous Solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Positive-sum westerners see “two states” as the obvious solution to the conflict on the land between the river and the sea. But analyzed in terms of honor-shame reasoning and the players involved, not only is that solution not going to work, but it’s actually designed by “two-stage” Palestinian strategists, to pursue the zero-sum dream: “Palestine from the river to the sea.” When we understand that the problem is not “how much” territory is Israel willing to concede to satisfy the Palestinians?” but “how do Arab Muslims overcome the humiliation that is Israel, and find their dignity in the global community without subjecting infidels,” different landscapes and alternatives arise.

First it becomes crystal clear that resolving this contest in a way that convinces Islamist supremacists to stand down becomes imperative not only for Israel, but for the West and all other peoples around the world, who, in the early decades of the third (global) millennium, are also the target of this zero-sum, honor-driven, imperialist version of monotheism: one God, one rule, one religion. The idea that “land for peace” is an option (much less the only true option), has progressives, Jewish and not, convinced that if only they cram this solution down Israel’s throat (for its own good of course, à la J-Street), they’ll solve the problem. They seem oblivious to the possibility that such a solution only pours oil on the Jihadi fire.

The alternative perspective, however, by considering real causes, opens up new thinking and new solutions. This means viewing the specific conflict not, as the Palestinians would insist, between the Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David, but as the very term intifada means, the “shaking off” of a bug (Israel) by a great beast.

Who is the great beast? Obviously not the Palestinians. They may be that small part of the great beast’s skin that shudders off the bug. But they are proxies for a much greater and more powerful creature. In other words the conflict in Arab and Muslim eyes is not between mighty Israelis and poor Palestinians: if it were that alone, the humiliation of losing to the Jews might be less painful. It’s between Israel, the only state of the Jews in the world (and a democracy thriving in very difficult conditions), fighting off 22 Arab and 57 Muslim authoritarian states, and beyond them, a wide range of Jihadi and Da’wa non-state actors, all driven by a triumphalist, hard zero-sum vision of Islam, one that cannot tolerate the very existence of an infidel state in the midst of Dar al Islam. In short, it is a battle front in a war between Muslim theocratic, authoritarian political culture and the democratic West. And for the West not only not to understand that, but side with the triumphalist Palestinians (for whom no Jewish state is tolerable), against Israel, is more than foolish, it’s self-destructive.

In that framework, I’d like to suggest a Qur’an-inspired alternative, also an obvious solution, but one that addresses the heart of the dilemma, not only of the “local” Arab-Israeli conflict, but the global “Muslim-infidel” conflict, namely, the difficulty so many Muslims have in living peaceably with their neighbors, whether Muslim or infidel. The greatest challenge of this global generation – whether viewed as the first generation of the 21st century or the second of the 15th century) is to Muslims to effect major changes in the hard zero-sum way they have historically related to kuffar (infidels), and women, and anyone less powerful than they. Everyone’s life, on this increasingly connected planet at the beginning third millennium, depends on Muslims and infidels rising to this challenge.

In this sense, Israel is the Muslim’s Dreyfus Affair, their test of modernity. Can they shift moral paradigms and leave behind triumphalist religiosity? Can they live at peace with the rest of the world without trying to subject them? The test case, is how they get along with the Jews in their region, esp since these sovereign Jews have proven considerably more peaceful towards Arab Muslims (even the most belligerent), than these have even towards each other, mu

To those of Allah’s faithful who would like Islam to stand in a place of honor among the nations of a peaceful and peace-loving world, I make this suggestion that, I think, will set you on a fruitful path. In the Qur’an, Surah 107 explains to people that, at the Last Judgment, Allah will not smile on those who “would be seen (i.e., admired) yet refuse the small kindness.” And yet this is precisely what Arab and Muslims have done to the Jews for the last 66 years.

There are 1.x billion Muslims in the world, or about a fifth of the global population; there are 12 million, Jews, or about a fifth of a percent of the world population. Of the entire area occupied by Arab-speaking majorities in the world, greater Israel constitutes a fifth of a percent of that total. Given all that Islam shares with Judaism (dare one say, adopted from Judaism), do you Muslims really think that on the Day of Judgment, Allah will forgive you if they refuse us the “small kindness” of being allowed to prosper on this tiny sliver of land? For the sake of world peace – literally – do not refuse us this “small kindness.”

 

Glossary List for Medievalist’s Guide to 21st Century

The following is a glossary list of terms I (and others) have developed to help describe the civilizational dynamics of the 21st century. I welcome suggestions for my definitions and for others I haven’t included.

Accuracy: best approximation one can make describing reality/actuality.

Journalistic Accuracy: best effort to describe what actually happened.

Al Yahud: Arabic for “the Jew,” a pervasively derogatory phrase, sons of apes and pigs.

Analogic dyslexia: wild and inappropriate historical analogies. See: Cultural relativity/Equivalence

Chronologic dyslexia: putting cart before horse. See Cult of Occupation

Apocalypticism: urgent sense that time for the Final Events is now

Active cataclysmic apocalyptic: agents of apocalyptic destruction
Passive cataclysmic apocalyptic: outside force destroys.
Transformative apocalyptic: voluntary transformation into new world

Apocalyptic narrative: cosmic/global story/scenario: how good will soon defeat evil.

Augean Stables: bad practices accumulated over long periods. My blog on WMSNM

Caliphate: rule of Islam, of Shari’a applicable to all including infidel dhimmi

Global caliphate: world submitted to Sharia, triumphalist millennial goal.
See: Muslim Triumphalism, Global Jihad, Da’wa.
Global Caliphater:
Muslim believing the time for global Caliphate is now.
Caliphater’s three choices: conversion to Islam, death, or dhimmitude.

Civil/Demotic polity: substitutes fairness discourse for violence in settling disputes.

Cognitive Egocentrism: projecting one’s own mentality onto others.

Liberal CE (LCE): projecting good faith/positive-sum motives on others.
Dominating EC (DCE): projecting bad faith/0-sum, rule or be ruled.
Moebius strip of CE: interaction of LCE-DCE to the advantage of DCE.

Cognitive Warfare (Cogwar): convince a more powerful foe not to use his force.

Cult of “Occupation”: attributing world-salvific results to ending Israeli Occupation.

Dar al Islam/Dar al Harb: world divided into realm of submission, and realm of war. See: Triumphalist Islam, Jihad, Global Jihad.

Da’wa: “summons”, call to infidel to convert and Muslims intensify their devotion;

Da-i Caliphaters: those waging global Jihad non-violently, by Cogwar.

Demopaths: using human rights to protect enemies of human rights. See: Da-i Caliphaters, Cogwar, DCE.

Dupes of demopaths: people who cede to the demopathic argument. See HRNGOs, Halo Effect, LCE.

Demotic: of/for the people (demos), aimed at empowering commoners.

Demotic Values: egalitarian, dignity of manual labor.
Demotic Religiosity: egalitarian religious style of being in society.
Demotic Polity: based on equality before the law, voluntary, contractual relations. See: Civil Polity

Dignity-guilt culture (DGC): dignity from mutual respect not dominion, d. of labor.
See: Demotic Values, Demotic/Civil Polity; cf: Honor-Shame Culture

Dhimmi: status of favored infidels in Dar al Islam, protected as long as degraded. See: Triumphalist Religioisty

Proleptic Dhimmitude: submitting in anticipation of conquest.
Dhimmi Leaders: charged with suppressing criticism of Muslims in their communities. See: Islamophobia

Dominating Imperative: Rule or be ruled.

Empathic Imperative: judge others as favorably as possible.

Eisogesis: aggressively reading outside meaning into a given text, imposition.

Exegesis: deriving implied meaning from a given text, interpretation.

Global Jihad: Mujahedeen’s purifying destruction brings on the Global Caliphate.
       Global Jihadi Right (GJR): hierarchal movement of conquest and dominion.

Global Progressive Left (GPL): leader of humanity’s evolution to global civil society.

Halo Effect: HRNGO’s good reputation because of their mission’s moral nature.

Honor-shame culture (HSC): shedding blood preserves or restores honor. See: Zero-Sum Games, Prime Divider Society; Cf: DGC, Civil Society

Honor Killings: (see Shame Murders)

Hopium: addiction to misplaced hope in decision-making.  See LCE, .

Human-Rights NGOs (HRNGO): NGOs dedicated to global human rights.  See: Halo Effect, Moral Equivalence

Human Rights Complex (HRC): ignore victimizers of color; obsess about “whites.”
Humanitarian Racism: people of color as force of nature; make no moral demands. See: Victim Studies, Intersectionality

Icons of Hatred: visual embodiments of lethal narratives, powerful war propaganda. See: Own Goal Lethal War Journalism

Information Professionals: charged by public to inform accurately on relevant issues (academics, researchers, journalists, public intellectuals).

Intifada: “shaking off,” as in mighty beast of Islam shakes off Zionist fly.

Al Aqsa Intifada: first campaign of 21st century global Jihad. See: Intifada, Trojan Horse Intifada, Oslo Jihad, Y2KMind, Oslo Logic

Jihad: literally, “to struggle” (German, kampfen), also holy war to spread Islam.

Kalam Alnass: Arabic term for fear of others judging you negatively. See: Oneidophobia 

Lethal Narratives: false atrocity-charges hard to disprove, poisoned war propaganda.

Lethal Journalism: passing on lethal narratives about the enemy as news.
Own-goal war journalism: reporting the enemy’s war propaganda as news.
Patriotic war journalism: reporting one’s own war propaganda as news.

Livingston Formulation: complaints of anti-Semitism are merely efforts to stop legitimate criticism of Israel. Cf: Islamophobia

Mainstream News Media MSNM: major print, video news outlets, news agencies.

WesternMSNM (WMSNM): world’s most professional news production services. See: Augean Stables

Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome MOS: everything our fault; if we do better, we fix everything.

Marriage of Pre-Modern Sadism and Post-Modern Masochism (MPreMoS&PomoM): Colonial Victim: “it’s all your fault!” Westerner: “How can I atone?”

Millennialism: an age of justice, abundance, peace and mutual love is coming (soon).

Progressive vs Restorative: past perfect golden age lost vs. brave new world.
Demotic vs Triumphalist: bottom-up, egalitarian vs. top-down hierarchical.

Moderate Muslim: one who exchanges triumphalism for religious freedom. See: Y2KCompliant

Moral Relativism/Equivalence: equating very different levels of moral behavior. See: Dupes and Demopaths, HRNGOs

Moral Schadenfreude: taking pleasure in the moral degradation of another.

Nakba: 1948 “catastrophe” in Arab-Muslim world, among refugees, when Israel won.

Naksa: “setback” of 1967, Nakba 2.0.
Naksba: mentality of those who scapegoat Israel while abusing own people. See: Prime Divider Society, Negative-Sum Games, Strong Horse Politics

Oneidophobia: dread of public disgrace, can paralyze, can galvinize to violence.

Oslo Intifada: war begun by Palestinians who treated Oslo Process as Trojan Horse.

Oslo Jihad: first major successful campaign of Caliphater global Jihad in 21st century.
Oslo Logic: positive-sum logic of “Oslo peace process;” Land for Peace. See: 2SS

Palestinian Media Protocols Compliance (PMPC): measures MSNM’s adherence

Pallywood/Hizbollywood/Fauxtography: staged lethal narratives for WMSNM use purveying Israel-Goliath/Palestinian-Victim frame.

Paradigms: conceptual frameworks to understand Islam/West, Arab/Israeli conflicts.

Honor-Shame Jihad P (HSJP): triumphalist, honor through global conquest.
Politically Correct P (PCP1): underdogma, Palestinian/Muslim as victim.
Post-colonial P (PCP2): Whites worst imperialists; must atone. Israel is white

Peace Journalism: emphasize the positive about foe, encourage own side to trust.

PoMo-PoCo: Post-modern, post-colonial; combination weaponized against West. See GPL, Active Transformative/Cataclysmic apocalyptic, MOC.

Prime Divider Societies: fundamental cultural divide between elite and commoners. See: Zero-Sum Honor-Shame; Cf: Demotic/Civil Polities, DGP

Propaganda: manipulate opinion to accept what, better informed, one would reject.

Public sphere: arena for discussion of matters of public interest. See: MSNM, WMSNM, Information Professionals

rekaB Street (“Baker” backwards): analysts who ignore clues, dismiss key evidence.
See: Proleptic Dhimmi, ASSO21C, Own-Goal War Journalism

Religiosity: a style of living one’s religious beliefs in the social world.

Demotic Religiosity: egalitarian, treats all with dignity.
Triumphalist Religiosity: hierarchical, treats infidels with contempt

Replacement Theology: monotheist claim to replace predecessors as chosen.

Secular Replacement Theology (SRC): GPL values have replaced religion.
Supersessionism: claim to sit on top (supersedeo) of predecessor. See: Triumphalist Religiosity, Zero-Sum Games, Dhimmitude

Schadenfreude: The pleasure one takes in the suffering of another, malevolent envy.

Moral Schadenfreude: pleasure in another’s loss of moral “high ground.”

Self-criticism: ability to both generate self-criticism and hear criticism from others. See: MOS.

Semiotic Arousal: readily seeing signs and meaningful patterns in data/events.

Semiotic Promiscuity: anything means anything, connect with abandon. See also: Eisogesis, Moral Equivalence

Shame Murders: murder of family member (women) driven by peer-enforced shame.

Social Game theory: emotional aspects of zero-sum and positive-sum game-playing.

Zero-Sum games: one side wins, other loses; one only wins if other side loses.
See: Lethal Narratives, Triumphalism, HSJP, Schadenfreude
Positive-Sum games: win-win; voluntaristic; based on trust/trustworthiness
Negative-Sum games: lose-lose; losing 0-sum… make everyone miserable.

Strong-Horse Politics: actors seek out the strong horse, participating in his dominion. See: Prime Divider Society, HSJP, Zero-Sum Games

Triumphalist religiosity: “Our God True God because we rule.” Our dominion proves our Religion the True one. See: Replacement Theology, Supersessionism, Dominating Imperative

Muslim triumphalism: Destiny of Islam to rule over mankind.

Two-State Solution (2SS): positive-sum resolution to Palestinian-Israeli conflict. See: Oslo Logic, Y2KMind

Verbal Vegetarians: speech of conflict-averse Westerners avoiding confrontations
See: Muslim Triumphalism. Proleptic Dhimmitide.

Victimology: study of victims, impact of victim experience on their behavior. See: Demopaths and their Dupes, MOS, MoPreMoS&PoMoM,

Y2K: Year 2000, computer bug problem.

Y2KCompliant: capable of handling switch to 2000 (computers); capable of tolerating others in global millennium (religion)
Y2KMind: insisting Palestinians ready for Oslo Logic no matter how they behave.
Y2K Logic: Since 2SS only fair solution, Palestinians/Muslims will, under right circumstances, accept a deal. See: LCE, Demopaths and their Dupes, Oslo Jihad, PCP1.

Caliphate Cogwar, Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism, and BDS

The Place of BDS and the Caliphate Cogwar

BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) is part and parcel of a wider cognitive war (cogwar) offensive against both Israel and the West. Cogwar is the main resort of the weak side in an asymmetrical conflict, whose task is to convince the enemy not to use its superior forces to resist attacks from the weaker side. While most asymmetric cogwar conflicts are defensive (chase out the imperialists), the Caliphate cogwar (see below), is an imperialist effort to invade and subject the far more powerful enemy, the modern, democratic West.

BDS pursues two major goals: stigmatizing Israel in the world community, and undermining the workings of a free academy in the West. This two goals strike at both major targets of Caliphate cogwar, Israel and Western democracies. It is based on weaponized false information (Pallywood), and its surprising success in enrolling Western “progressives,” illustrates the degree of disorientation current among Western thought leaders.

How disoriented must one be to look at the ME, where “human rights” don’t even exist in the Muslim-majority world, and blame Israel for the region’s woes because they have failed to provide more protection and human rights to a sworn enemy of both Israel and human rights. Without the disturbing receptivity of liberals and progressives in the West to the absurd portrayal of Israel as a particularly nasty case of human rights violations, BDS would rapidly fade.

This essay is less concerned with understanding BDS – a secondary phenomenon – than understanding from where BDS draws its strength by placing it within the larger context of a cogwar conducted against the West by Muslims who believe that Islam should replace the US/West as global hegemon. It describes the Caliphaters, and the invasive cogwar they wage against the West, and their strategy of using of anti-Zionism, assisted by Western lethal, own-goal journalism, to hit the West in its “soft underbelly.”

Caliphaters: Their Aims, Targets, and Means

It has proven remarkably difficult for the West, Europe in particular, to understand the nature of their most dangerous 21st century enemy: the Caliphaters. Caliphaters are Muslims who believe that this generation will see the revival and spread of the Caliphate to the entire world: Where there was Dar al Harb, (world of war), there shall be Dar al Islam (world of submission). They see globalization as a praeparatio caliphatae, a (largely unconscious) vehicle for the final spread of Islam. For the impatient it’s this generation; for those with more patience, it’s this century (1400-1500 AH/ 1979-2076 CE).

Caliphater is a “lumping” term that includes both “violent extremists” and more “moderate” activists who operate within the parameters of Western democracy. Such believers not only strive for this Islamist victory through violent jihad (Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iranian Revolutionary Guard), but also through verbal, non-violent, da’wa, or “summons to the faith” (Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jamaat e-Islami). As Yussuf al Qaradawi, one of the most popular Muslim Brotherhood preachers put it:

The US and Europe will be conquered not by Jihad, but by Da’wa.

Thus not all Caliphaters are alike (just like not all democrats are alike), and specialists can enumerate the differences between various groups at will; indeed some insist that the “moderates” and the extremists have little or nothing to do with each other. Identifying Muslims as a Caliphaters by means signifies that they are all the same. But it does identify a critical belief in a common destiny.

And often enough, it’s not really an either-or. Historically, da’wa and jihad go together: first summons, then jihad; with Bin Laden it went the other way: declare war and strike first (Bin Laden, 1996, 2001), then issue a summons (2002). After a jihadi attack, da’wa steps in as the “nice cop.” Among Caliphaters, the use of violence, is more a matter of timing than principle: like the treaty of Hudaybiyya, Arafat’s model for his participation in the “Oslo Peace Process“: pro-peace when weak, pro-war when strong. In any case, wherever they happen to fall along the gamut from non-violent to beserker, Caliphaters all agree that the supreme goal, for which it is an honor to sacrifice one’s life, is the dominion of Islam over the whole earth.

Caliphaters are ferociously dedicated, adaptable, creative, quick learners, and, in the jihadi version, antinomian: “Allah wills it, everything is permitted.” They, like all millennial believers, have enormous appeal, since they call on people to fulfill a cosmic destiny. For caliphaters of all kinds, life, indeed everything they do, is filled with  meaning.

Caliphaters hate Israel above all other infidels. These autonomous Jews have invaded (what was and should be) Dar al Islam, and despite how few in number, they resist all Arab efforts to wipe them out. For Caliphaters, Israel’s blasphemous existence brings shame to their triumphalist Islam, which must dominate in order to be true.

Israel’s a problem for all triumphalist Muslims, whether they think that this is the generation that will spread Islam to the rest of the world (Caliphaters), or just restore Dar al Islam to its former borders (including Spain, the Balkans and India). Caliphaters, however, consider all unsubjected infidels an insult to them, and to their religion. Hence their greater hostility to America than to Europeans with whom Muslims have many and much more serious scores to settle. Since the Caliphate aims to replace the US as the global hegemon, the US, by its very prominence is hated most in the West. Thus, Caliphaters consider the West (US) and Israel as the high priority targets: great and little Satans.

The Strategy of Caliphater Cogwar against the West

Caliphaters undertake a deeply asymmetrical war when they seek to conquer the earth: both culturally and militarily, they are at an immense disadvantage (and the idea that they have numbers on their side suggests that they believe that most of the 1.x million Muslims on the planet secretly side with them). Indeed, the asymmetry is so great that most Westerners, informed of Caliphater goals, either laugh in scorn at so foolish a notion, or view those who persist in pressing the point as “Islamophobes.” As a result, no matter how spectacular their military attacks on infidel civilians might be, at least for the time being, that terror campaign remains a adjunct to the main battlefield, the cogwar.

Caliphaters, planning the far more massive task of invading and subjecting the West, discovered that Westerners had a “soft-underbelly,” a point of easiest invasion: namely, their susceptibility to anti-Zionism. In this Caliphaters could appeal to supersessionist Christians and post-Christians who do not like – indeed deeply fear – autonomous Jews (Israel). By feeding what has proven to be an astonishingly strong Western appetite for stories about Jews behaving badly, Caliphaters could win a triple strategic victory over Western infidel dupes:

  • Get one infidel target (the West) to side with the Caliphaters against another infidel target (Israel).
  • Disorient the duped infidels into so misreading the situation in Israel, that they make policy choices that play into the Caliphaters’ hand.
  • Take over Western activist projects and turn them towards violent opposition to Israel; invade their universities both academically and through student groups, and bully the “human rights” community.

In principle, it seemed like a pretty tall order way back in the late 20th century. Would the West be so stupid, both empirically and strategically? Would pacifist progressives embrace misogynist jihadis?

Palestinian Cogwar against Israel and Lethal Journalism

Alas, the news in the 21st century is not good. This improbable cogwar, with its outrageous expectations of cooperation from targeted victims, has been going spectacularly well for the Caliphaters for 16 years at least. And this sudden turn of the tide in their favor, their first global victory, came with the “Al Aqsa Intifada” (late 2000). At that point, the Western mainstream news media (WMSNM) turned fully against Israel, adopted the Israeli Goliath/Palestinian David frame as their “nut,” and began presenting the lethal narratives of Palestinian war propaganda as news, starting with the al Durah blood libel (2000) and the Jenin “Massacre” (2002). Fifteen years later, and they’re still doing it.

Thinking that they sided with the scrappy Palestinian David, fighting for the freedom and independence of their “yearned for” state, these lethal journalists pumped Jihadi war propaganda into the Western sphere as real events. This “lethal journalism” played a critical role in convincing the world to see the Israelis as Palestinian war propaganda wanted: the Israeli Goliath oppressing the Palestinian victim (underdogma). In its most malicious supersessionist avatar, the Palestinians “are” the “new Jews,” victims of genocide, and the Israelis, the new Nazis, committing it. Indeed, Al Durah specifically opened the portals of the public sphere to their claims: after 2000, comparing Israel to Nazis went mainstream.

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

This first, sudden, violent, often hysterical wave of hostility to Israel in the West, what Sharansky called the 3Ds (2000-2003), operated as a cultural buzz-saw whose effects we see today in BDS: outrage trumps discussion; defending Israel is unconscionable; no peace without justice (revenge). With the help of lethal journalists, the Al Durah icon of hatred – IDF targets children – became a dominant Western meme, both emotionally (in hostility to Israel) and cognitively (in receptivity to further slander).

And so each time Israel fought back – Jenin and Bethlehem (2002), Lebanon (2006), Cast Lead (2008/9), Mavi Marmara (2010), Pillar of defense (2012), Protective Edge (2014) – the WMSNM complied extensively with the demands of the “Palestinians” to tell their story: the “vast majority” of victims of Israeli bombing were innocent civilians. If an Gazan cameraman came up with a fourth-rate job of “filming the IDF murder of an innocent child,” then true it must be. If Saeb Erekat says the IDF massacred hundreds of innocent civilians in Jenin and buried them in mass graves, true it must be.

Thus, for the last 16 years, every time Israel defended itself against the Jihad declared against it, the lethal school of journalists dominated coverage: Palestinian suffering and Israeli aggression 24/7. The world saw what Palestinian leadership wished it to see, and sided with them against the bully Israeli Goliath… actually siding with the Caliphaters against the infidels resisting subjection.

The Palestinian cogwar strategy in their asymmetrical conflict with the IDF: get world outrage to stop Israel from fighting, so we can recover and start another round. The Jihadi cogwar strategy: use the newswashed propaganda about Israel to rouse Jihad – show the Muslim world how Israel/the West are trying to exterminate Muslims and destroy Islam.

Journalists who did not seem to mind damaging to Israel, showed no sign of understanding that their lethal journalism, was also own-goal journalism, in which they “newswashed” enemy propaganda in their own public sphere, poisoning their own societies, disorienting their consumers, and electrifying the forces of the Caliphate the world over.

The Caliphater Cogwar against the West

The rest of the world, not knowing that their media was systematically misinforming them according to the instructions of Caliphaters, believed these things. Indeed, the West was one of the target audiences for this performance, and progressive “outrage” – played out in public venues like Durban (2001) and the anti-war rallies of the early aughts (2002, 2003) – united post-colonial progressives and Caliphaters, who joined in angry protests shouting “Death to the Jews!”

And for over a decade, the same journals that newswashed jihadi lethal narratives about Israel, fell silent on the genocidal discourse that war propaganda provoked. By 2014, the cry became so widespread, even the journalists mentioned it. Whatever the calculus on who won in Israel’s military “operations” against her neighbors, every such clash in the 21st century has meant a tenfold victory for the global Caliphaters.

The success of the Caliphater attack on Israel in the West has been immense, and the impact of its disorientation has been extensive on the West’s ability to recognize and deal with developments both in the Middle East (where more Caliphaters are open Jihadis), and in dealing with domestic Caliphaters (largely cogwarriors doing Da’wa). In France, any suggestion that Jihadi terrorists shared traits with wider circles of Muslims gets shouted down, “surtout pas d’amalgames.”

Even Western policy and intelligence circles (James Clapper during the badly misnamed “Arab Spring”, 2011), use the language of moderation for the ur-Caliphater group, Muslim Brotherhood which believes that “the US and Europe will be conquered not by Jihad but by Da’wa.” So Caliphaters, people working for the dominion of Muslims over infidels, the world over, go undetected by Westerners disoriented, in significant part, because they are blinded by the wildly successful, anti-Zionist cogwar campaign Caliphaters conduct against them. In 2015, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, and again after those on the Bataclan, the French radically underinformed about Caliphaters, asked “Why.”

pourquoi

Place de la République, January 2015

One “high” point in this anti-Zionist cogwar strategy of disorientating the West came in 2002, when Europeans openly cheered on the Jihadi use of suicide terror (against Israel), a weapons soon to be trained on them. In the Spring of 2002, lethal journalists pumped Palestinian war propaganda into the West as news: Israel had massacred hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the “Jenin Massacre” and buried them in mass graves – i.e. just like the Nazis in the Holocaust. Consumers of this lethal narrative came out in the streets to protest, some wearing suicide belts to celebrate the plucky Palestinians, who “had no choice,” but to blow themselves up among Israeli civilians in their desperation (to get a state).

Thus did the global progressive Left completely misread the Jihadi war declared on Israel (and them) and instead treat it as a national liberation movement, and thus did she eagerly greet the first appearance of the most potent weapon of Jihad’s apocalyptic death cult – suicide terror/shahida – a weapon that haunts the 21st century. Had you told the signers of the Hamas Charter that in two decades, infidels would be cheering on shahids and shouting “we are Hamas” in the streets of European capitals, they would have said, “Only Allah can make a people that stupid.”

Jeremy Corbyn, useful infidel and head of Labour Party in England

How much easier to believe that if only Israel weren’t so mean (so Goliathish), then we’d have peace. Those who took the easy path – criticize Israel, shield Palestinians from criticism – dominate the Western public sphere, from the NYT, Le Monde, HaAretz, and the BBC, across the major agencies (Reuters, AP, AFP, Al Jazeera). It’s always easier to criticize those who won’t retaliate than those who will. As a result, own-goal war journalism – running enemy propaganda as news – has dominated news coverage and poisoned the global public sphere for at least 16 years.

BDS represents the most elaborately weaponized form of this cogwar. It mobilizes lethal narratives, especially those newswashed, and displays them on campuses (Israel Apartheid Week), before attempting to get student and scholarly organizations to vote boycotts against the Israel. Like Palestinian war campaigns, they don’t have to win the actual battle, in order to win; even when they lose, they both to stigmatize Israel as a global pariah, and bully academic standards into abandoning their intellectual integrity. Win-win for the losers.

From Ilan to Sarah Halimi: Shameful France

French public intellectual, Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, has written an open letter to Gerard Collomb, the new French Minister of the Interior about the stunning silence in the French public sphere about the terrible murder of Sarah Halimi, a doctor, who was tortured and murdered by her Muslim Arab neighbor while three armed policemen stood outside her door waiting for backup. Below is a translation of the text by André Unterberger with some changes by me.

An open letter to Gerard Collomb [1]: from Ilan [0] to Sarah Halimi, a shameful France

Source: ATLANTICO
Mr Minister,

A 65-yr old Jewish lady MD, during her sleep, is attacked and atrociously tortured for more than one hour.  She lives in a modest apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, rue Vaucouleurs. The murderer,  who reached her apartment through the balcony, attacks with incredible violence, resulting in about twenty fractures all over her face and body.

He then throws her, dying, out of the window, from the 3rd floor. During all this time, the police (3 men with weapons, present in the building just outside the apartment door) do nothing. The neighbours (several dozen) can hear the victim’s yells:  they do nothing either. The French media are alerted. They make no queries and do not report the murder.

Her name was Sarah … Sarah Halimi.

This atrocious scene did not happen in 1942, before or after the “Rafle du Veld’hiv” [2] but in the night from April 3rd to April 4th, 2017, in a tiny apartment close to the “Bataclan” [3]: Cries of “Allah Akbar” accompanied the scene. The next Sunday, a silent march was organised in the area. Youngsters from the nearby quarters countered it with yells of “Mort aux Juifs” or “We own kalachnikovs”.

The Paris public prosecutor immediately pointed out that one should wait for the result of the enquiry before issuing conclusions about the nature of the crime. Who knows? An elderly Jewish lady savagely massacred by a 27-yr old Islamist with many priors (drug trafficking, assault): this could just be a dispute between neighbours… Never mind that the murderer, Kada Taore, from Mali, insulted the victim on a regular basis, and she had reported to neighbours how frightened she was by him. “We are at war”, Manuel Valls proclaimed [4]: “so that Muslims will not feel ashamed any more and Jews will not be frightened any more.” A smashing success.

Mr Minister, you have just taken your position in a country where it is once again possible to murder Jews without eliciting much concern from our fellow Frenchmen and women. By the way, the men who have been in charge before you, both on the left and the right, preferred not to look any further than the end of the broom with which they swept the problem under the carpet. None were up to this challenge. Will you be? This Sunday May 21. on I24News [5], Sarah Halimi’s brother said with extraordinary dignity; “I have waited 7 weeks before I said anything. The absolute silence about my sister’s assassination has become intolerable.”

Further thoughts on Yom Yerushalayim in dialogue:

My Yom Yerushalayim post engendered an exchange with the author of the article I fisked. I asked permission to post one of my long answers and he agreed with this request:

Ok. BUT. I would want you to add 2 points in my name:
1. I am convinced that no one is immune or protected from messianic excess. We are all human.
2. The delegitmation of the “bleeding heart liberals” troubles me. Our opponents refuse to concede that we care and love Israel even if we reach different conclusions. We may be wrong but we care deeply.

****

You exaggerate our faults (that’s your right as a Jew – it’s what the prophets did all the time), and you minimize theirs (why bother confronting them?). As a result, you feed their worst instincts.
The occupation is running amok. Murderers are being eulogized as heroes. Settlers terrorize Palestinians. These “exceptions” are becoming the rule, with the active encouragement of the government (note the recent event run for school age children on how to make sure that a terrorist is dead).
Every statement here needs to be tempered and contextualized, especially when in comparison with real, run-away, violent messianism (which few nations have resisted). You see this all as signs of imminent outbreak/collapse of the moral fiber of the nation. Given we are a garrison state, i’d say it’s amazing it’s this contained.
If the people who buy into the Zionazi theory were right about us (that we treat the Palestinians as the Nazis did us) we’d have massacred every last Arab we could find in 1948. And outsiders would probably have forgiven us our madness. After all, we had just escaped an inconceivably huge attempt at our systematic destruction, and so our paranoia – exterminate or be exterminated – with enemies who had openly allied with the Nazis, would have been fully justified by any law of nations to that point. Look at what the allies did to the Germans and the Japanese – wholescale slaughter to put an end to the madness.

The Echo Chamber of Dupes: Human Rights Discourse in Service of Demopathy

I came across a recent article by Ron Dudai, “Entryism, mimicry and victimhood work: the adoption of human rights discourse by right-wing groups in Israel,” The International Journal of Human Rights, May, 2017.

His basic claim is that “right-wing” groups imitate, seek to be included in, and exploit “human rights” discourse in order to pursue a “right-wing” agenda whose aims are to hijack the movement from within, defend Israel and undermine the Palestinian struggle for their human rights. It’s a classic product of the PoMo-PoCo-Po-Zi discourse heavily favored at Hebrew U, and especially among Buber Fellows (of which he is one): filled with fashionable jargon – entryism, aggressive, colonial mimicry, mimetic isomorphism, counter-hegemonic strategy, etc. (It’s actually not as bad as it might be; and I shouldn’t complain because I make up terminology all the time.)

What’s striking about the article is the echo chamber effect of current “liberal/progressive” thought. It’s logic (and documentation) are impeccable within that echo chamber, recently criticized by the President of Wesleyan (!). The possibility, however, of anomalous evidence entering this mental universe has been minimized to the point where key questions cannot even arise, alternative perspectives cannot even be imagined.

The core of the problem revolves around two issues. First, the reification of the “right-left” phenomenon, as if (according to the medieval school of realists) when the author says “right-wing” that designates a real entity, and not his effort to organize a reality that his terms cannot possibly comprehend. Thus, the differences between what he identifies as “right-wing” and what he considers “progressive” or “left-wing human rights” movements are so fundamental, that the behavior of one side can only be malevolent, and the other only be beneficent.

Second, having reified the dyad, he cannot see any possibility that his criticism of the “right” for invoking human rights to undermine human rights (ie, demopathy“) has already occurred among the major “left-wing human rights groups,” and has been causing havoc in human rights for decades. As a result, he sees a group like NGO Monitor as essentially attempting to hamper the work of the “good left-wing” HRGs (which it is), because they are tribal, Israel-first, right-wingers (not Ron Dudai!), not because they’re opposing the devastating effects of “left-wing” HRGs that are working hand in hand with some of the worst “right-wing” demopaths on the planet. The damage done by this extensive “left-wing” adoption of the “human rights” discourse of demopathic Caliphaters (CAIR, Linda Sarsour, Marwan Barghouti) not only harms Israel (the only “human rights respecting” nation in the entire region), but the very cause of human rights.

(Not) Celebrating Jerusalem Day: Fisking a friend

A good friend and colleague wrote the following piece in 2013. At the time, I said nothing despite my profound disagreement. Recently he recirculated the piece on Academia.com, and, with the approach of the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem, I find myself, as one historian to another, compelled to fisk.

THE JERUSALEM REPORT

MAY 20, 2013

Since I fear the long-term outcome of the Six Day War victory, and the poison pill of occupation, I do not celebrate Jerusalem Day.
A historian’s nightmare

FOR A number of years I have refused to celebrate Jerusalem Day, which falls on Iyar 28, or May 8 this year [this year, May 24]. Yes, although I lived in New York at the time, I am old enough to remember the fears that gripped us in the weeks preceding the Six Day War, the thrill of the news that enemy air forces had been destroyed on the ground, the capture of the Old City of Jerusalem, and the declaration that the Temple Mount was in “our” hands. Nevertheless, as the consequences of the 1967 war became clearer, I began to view Jerusalem Day as the opening act of a national tragedy. For many years, I was reluctant to publish the piece below; it seemed far too extreme.

Indeed it was, and still is.

The composition of the new coalition government, whose representatives in key places are committed to generous funding of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, has changed my mind. I fear what will come to pass sometime in the future: Israel – a pariah state – about which no one really cares what happens to its Jewish citizens, since they have lost all moral claim to life;

This is a classic case of inverse moral relativism, or maybe moral perfectionism (exceptionally high moral expectations of self) combined with humanitarian racism (no moral expectations of others) that systematically bows to the grotesque attitude of mean-spirited outsiders as some kind of “reality.” We have not by any means lost a moral claim to life. Israel is an (the?) outstanding case of a democracy that, under conditions that have produced totalitarianism in democratic experiments (starting with the French “revolutionary” terror), has remained robust (even if most of its citizens don’t agree with you). To accept the revolting claims of moral idiots like Terje Roed-Larsen, looking at the ruins of five square blocks of Jenin refugee camp in 2002 through the eyes of the news reports of a “Jenin Massacre” declared that “Israel has lost all moral ground in this conflict,” is to in fact abdicate moral responsibility.

Actually, I’d argue the exact opposite. It’s because Israel, in comparison with other nations – and certainly with our neighbors – has such an exceptional moral record (I know, not good enough for you, but, remember, this is a comparative statement), that the reason we are reviled by the “global ‘progressive’ left” is that we are their superior rivals, whom they need desperately to dethrone in order to strut, suicidally, on the global stage as the cutting edge of civilizational values.

Case Study of Lethal Journalism: NYT and Marwan Barghouti

Possibly the single most disorienting aspect of news coverage in the 21st century, was the way the mainstream news media – the main papers and news agencies and TV news studios – presented the “Second Intifada.” For them, the dominant, indeed, the hegemonic, narrative was the Israeli Goliath trying to crush the Palestinian David. Aside from the deep misunderstanding of all the cultural issues in this region that make Arab and Muslim “secular nationalism” and “freedom fighting” inappropriate terms (as was later so spectacularly illustrated by the “Arab Spring”), it completely missed the other narrative, that of global Jihad.

As a result, Western observers were repeatedly exposed by their journalists to a “lethal journalism” that ran Palestinian Jihadi propaganda as news, and portrayed Israel as the murderous, rogue, colonialists running roughshod on Palestinian “civil society.” So when the IDF went after Palestinian mass-murderers, using global Jihad’s most potent new weapon, suicide mass murder of infidels, not only did the press jump all over false reports of an IDF massacre at Jenin, but European “progressives” actually cheered on the monstrous weapon, soon to be aimed at them. In the 21st century, it turns out, lethal journalism against Israel is actually own-goal lethal journalism: running your enemy’s propaganda as news.

If anyone thinks that the long list of scandalous and damaging errors our journalists have made over the last two decades, is in decline, consider the latest. The New York Times, famous for its scrupulous “back and forth” with authors in its op-ed pages, ran the propaganda of a convicted Palestinian terrorist on its op-ed pages, with no fact-checking, and disguising the nature of his crimes. As a result, readers of the Times were treated to a long anti-Israel diatribe by Marwan Barghouti, described by the editors as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” One could excuse Westerners so informed for thinking that a) the Palestinian Parliament is an operative democratic institution, and b) a Palestinian leader struggles for his people’s freedom, not their sacrifice in the goal of destroying another people’s freedom.

This time, however, the Times felt the blowback. Vigorous criticism got them a rebuke from the paper’s public editor, prompting a “correction.”

I asked Jim Dao, editor of the Op-Ed pages, about the decision not to include Barghouti’s crimes. Dao noted that the piece does say the author received multiple life sentences but he acknowledged that it doesn’t state the crimes for which he was convicted. “We are drafting an editors’ note that will provide that information,” he said.

Here’s the note, attached after our exchange:

This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.

[snip]

This isn’t a new issue for the Opinion section. I have written before on the need to more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading. Do the authors of the pieces have any conflicts of interest that could challenge their credibility? Are they who they say they are, and can editors vouch for their fidelity?

I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages.

In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice.

I guess beggars can’t be choosy, but this is half-hearted at the most; and the brave Liz Spayd is too easily mollified.

five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization?

Nakba… Naksa… Naqsba: The Victimization of Palestinian Refugees

Fragments in honor of Naqba Day

  • The original meaning of Nakba: the catastrophe Arab leadership brought on the refugees from their failed war. It was initially voiced by refugees as criticism of the Arab elite.
  • Naksa: (the setback), the term to designate the repeat catastrophe that befell the Arab world under Nasser in 1967: global humiliation, Israel from the river to the sea, Jerusalem in Jewish hands.
  • Current meaning of Nakba (as in Nakba Day): accusation against Israel for treating Palestinians so terribly, sometimes accompanied with comparisons of the Holocaust and the Nakba.
  • This is same scapegoating discourse that created the Nakba in the first place: accusing Israel, erasing criticism of Arab leaders.
  • Naqsba: the mentality of those Arab leaders who scapegoat Israel while abusing their own people, and thereby perpetuate an ongoing catastrophe for Arab people in Arab lands, especially for Palestinians.
  • The way for Palestinians to put an end to the Nakba is to stop blaming Israel and self-criticize. Ouch. A little help here, “western” (ie privileged) progressives? Or is it just too important to you to blame Israel. Ouch.

The term nakba first appeared among refugees to describe the catastrophe that befell them in the failed Arab war to destroy Israel. Told to flee their homes with rumors of Jewish slaughter even cannibalism, to make way for the victorious Arab armies that would defeat this terrible enemy, not only did they get imprisoned in refugee camps, but their neighbors who stayed, not only didn’t get slaughtered, but got treated far better by their Israeli “enemies” than those who fled got treated by their Arab “hosts”. Indeed, one phrase for referring to this catastrophically shameful event was: lammā sharnā wa-tla’nā (“when we blackened our faces and left”).

So one of the original meanings of Nakba was a reproach from “refugees,” the greatest victims of the Arab elite’s irresponsible war, against Arab leaders for their terrible treatment of their own people (lying to them to get them to run, impoverishing them, and imprisoning them in camps to await the day of vengeance). There was even an element of self-reproach for running. In any case, Israel was neither the main culprit, nor even the main target of the criticism. Part of the shame of running, was the Israeli treatment of Arabs who stayed.

Over the last couple of decades, the meaning of Nakba has been completely reversed. It now designates the catastrophe that Israel brought on the “Palestinian refugees,” kicking them out and not letting them back in. The role of the Arab elites in creating the catastrophe, and prolonging it by keeping the refugees in camps, is erased, and its place taken by a loud outrage at Israeli sins and fierce calls for Al Awda – the return.

This reversal of blame rides on the analogy that Palestinians make about how their suffering is somehow equivalent to the Holocaust, and that they are the new Jews, and the Israelis are the new Nazis. It feeds so nicely into the (false) equivalency: what the Nazis did to the Jews, the Israelis did to the Palestinians. How sad! How appalling of the Jews… no sooner do they take power than they do onto others what was done to them.

This switch in meaning is being pushed by the same Arab leadership that brought on the Nakba, with the same strategies of victimizing their own people in pursuit of restoring Arab honor, and scapegoating the Jews as guilty ones. Those outsiders (non-Palestinian progressives, or diaspora Palestinians) who adopt this inverted narrative, thereby support the Arab Nakba-causers, and their descendents who want to prolong the catastrophic policies of Arab forbears, and who benefit from prolonging the suffering of “Palestinians” in pursuit of their irredentist goals.

Naksba: a term to designate the behavior of Arab “leaders” who perpetuate these catastrophes by pursuing the same catastrophic goals and sacrificing their own people in order to attack Israel. Western progressives have no business being Naqsba enablers. It’s almost as if, having taken a time-machine into the middle ages, we were to side with the aristocracy, enabling them to crush their subjects.

From wikipedia:

Initially, the use of the term Nakba among Palestinians was not universal. For example, many years after 1948, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon avoided and even actively resisted using the term, because it lent permanency to a situation they viewed as temporary, and they often insisted on being called “returnees.”[10]

ie: it recognized the naksba logic of turning them into victims, i.e. prolonging their status as refugees.

In the 1950s and 1960s, terms they used to describe the events of 1948 included al-‘ightiṣāb (“the rape”), or were more euphemistic, such as al-‘aḥdāth (“the events”), al-hijra (“the exodus”), and lammā sharnā wa-tla’nā (“when we blackened our faces and left”).[10]

also self-critical or at least a self-reproach. our leaders misled us, but we are shamed for having listened to them and run like cowards.

Nakba narratives were avoided by the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon in the 1970s, in favor of a narrative of revolution and renewal.

when they have power, they get triumphalist, no more of this victim stuff. we’re headed for victory. result: over a decade of civil war (1975-82) in which 150,000 civilians were killed by various factions, among which the PLO was a major player. (NB: all the Arab-Israeli wars together (1948-present), have produced fewer dead (counting both civilians and soldiers) than ten years of civil war killed of Lebanese civilians).

Interest in the Nakba by organizations representing refugees in Lebanon surged in the 1990s due to the perception that the refugees’ right of return might be negotiated away in exchange for Palestinian statehood, and the desire was to send a clear message to the international community that this right was non-negotiable.[10]

so instead of protesting that Arafat wouldn’t let them into his Palestinian state, the one he’d be creating by (allegedly) giving up this right of return, thus leaving them – even after “independence” – in their brutal Lebanese captivity (naksba policy), the spokesmen for the Lebanese Palestinian refugees (and here i’m guessing a naksba elite, not the refugees whose suffering the world must see and blame on Israel) insist that Arafat not touch “their” right to return to Israel. Everyone show your ancestor’s key. Naqsba thinking all the way.

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has prompted Palestinians like Mahmoud Darwish to describe the Nakba as “an extended present that promises to continue in the future.”[7]

a stark and pregnant description of the condition of his people. the Naksba mentality – blaming Israel, seeking revenge – is precisely what extends into the ongoing present, the Arab elites’ exploitation of, and sacrifice of, Arab people,especially those they designate “Palestinians,” thus perpetuating this Nakba into the future. 

Fisking Rob Bryan on Bassem Eid: A Glimpse inside the “Pre-Occupied Mind”

I recently had coffee with Bassem Eid, and he mentioned the following article by Rob Bryan that denounces him as a suck-up, a token Palestinian, pandering to right-wing Jewish audiences. It struck me as so classic an expression of what one might call the “preoccupied mind” (or the mindset of members of the “Cult of the Occupation“), that it seemed worth a fisking.

Meet Bassem Eid, the Former Palestinian Human Rights Activist Who’s Sucking Up to the Israel Lobby

Eid once monitored Israeli human rights abuses. Now he defends them before right-wing audiences.
Here’s the pitch, elaborated below. Caveat emptor, this is not about to give you an honest appraisal of either information or opinion.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Bassem Eid, a stocky 58-year-old Palestinian political analyst, stood in front of an audience of about 30 people this June 22 in the law offices of Duval & Stachenfeld in midtown Manhattan. The crowd snacked on stuffed grape leaves and drank red wine from the Northern Galilee region of Israel, eager to hear an exuberant man hold court on the plight of his people.

The Israeli-American Council (IAC), a lobbying organization explicitly dedicated to strengthening theing a st of questions sent to his personal email regarding his speaking fees. Yet the depth of Eid’s hostility towards the very notion of justice for Palestinians was genuinely surprising, as was the total fealty he showed towards the state whose abuses are well-documented.

Good illustration of the cult of the Preoccupation: justice is defined only in terms of denouncing Israel. The slogan “No peace without justice,” along with “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea!” means “No peace with Israel.”

The “abuses” are “well documented” by organizations like Btselem, which Eid left because they refused to document any abuses of Palestinian rights by their thuggish leaders, who reflect an Arab political culture that alleged “human rights” groups like HRW treat with great delicacy while reaching out to the for funding to “document” Israeli “abuses.”

“Friends,” said Eid, spreading his arms wide, “if you will look today to the Middle East map and the growing Islamic terror in the Middle East, in my opinion, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became the most safe place in the Middle East.” Not once did he criticize the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, or the discriminatory laws passed against Arab citizens of Israel. To him, these were minor details.

Well, when you’re faced with someone with a light wound, and someone who’s at death’s door, it may make sense to shift the attention to the latter, the no cost target, Israel. Bryan will have none of this. Israel’s abuses, which have somehow produced one of the Arab world’s higher-ranking HDI (Israel’s Arabs and oil-rich countries excluded).

Here’s Eid’s way of putting it.

His animated diatribes sounded like the inner monologue of a right-wing member of Israel’s Knesset, inveighing against the “thugs and gangsters of the so-called BDS” and decrying Students of Justice in Palestine as a “bullshit group.”

He was being nice. SJP is one of the nastiest groups out there, and its founder, Hatem Bazian, one of the most aggressive purveyors of a definition of Islamophobia that strangles any criticism of Islam, and surely made Said proud.

His claim that the Arab League is “a rehabilitation center for handicapped people” drew big laughs. (Eid’s preferred rhetorical device is the one-liner, much to the delight of a middle-aged man sitting next to me who responded as though he was witnessing the second coming of Jackie Mason).

It’s so hard to realize that one (or one’s ally) has made oneself into a parody. The Arab League is indeed a big and bad joke. Here’s their ambassador to the UN explaining why Hamas can’t stop bombing Israel even though it means that their own people get bombed back.

Unpacked, this means, “it’s a no brainer (for us) that if we’re getting the stuffings kicked out of us, we have to keep hitting back (to show we’re men).” As the proverb goes: “Fighting an enemy who is stronger is not honor, it’s pride, often the opposite of honor.” Self-preservation, concern for the well-being of their own people? Not high on the Arab League’s priority list.

Eid’s point exactly.

How to Deal with Honor-Shame Dynamics: With Dignity, Refuse Proleptic Dhimmitude

[apologies for not posting this months ago.]

In response to my article in MEQ on Edward Said and honor-shame dynamics, one reader wrote in:

I thought Landes’ article pushed an important point on honor and shame.  If one takes it to be true, then the way to solve some of the problems would be to send over lots of therapists.  I know it sounds crazy but I am thinking perhaps there is something to it? 

There is a brief response in MEQ (which I can no longer find). The longer response I post below:

From the perspective of those committed to primary honor-shame codes, therapists represent the forces of an effeminate culture designed to castrate them and kill their triumphalist religion. So that’s not going to work. (It is common among Jihadis to believe that the Jews have castrated the Christian West, and now plan to do so to them.)

But good therapy is better in the doing than in formal introspection, and if progressives were serious about their values, they’d be helping Arabs to grapple with this authoritarian strain in their culture, to become more capable of handling criticism and introspecting. Hopefully, the Arab world will eventually produce a school of their own therapists who can help the process of harnessing (rather than castrating) the testosteronic impulses of their long-dominant primary honor codes.

At its core, I think this is about peer pressure – who determines what’s honorable? Anthony Appiah has an excellent meditation on the problem: The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, in which he treats four case studies where a society/culture changed its code: what had previously been considered honorable (slave-holding, dueling, foot-binding, and honor-killing) shifted to shameful according to the new dominant “honor group.”

From this perspective, the Muslim and Arab world have yet to undergo a passage from zero-sum, triumphalist rule-or-be-ruled, primary honor codes, to ones more tolerant of “others” – of free infidels, or independent women, in particular. (The only failed moral revolution in Appiah’s book was the shift from honorable honor-killings to shameful shame-murders in Pakistan.)

This is above all a cultural issue (exactly not, as many try to insist, a racial one); and until we learn to think about this from the perspective of the triumphalist Muslims, we cannot understand what we face. And once we do, we discover a whole range of areas where we can assert pressure, because their great weakness is now their great strength – their amazingly “thin skin.”

Right now, instead, the West (especially its “liberals”) do everything they can to avoid “shaming” the Muslim world, and so avoid pointing this out: if one brings up “honor-killings” as a symptom of a particularly regressive honor-shame culture, liberals will almost instinctively insist they have nothing to do with Islam. And while it’s true that some (few) other cultures also approve of – even insist on – killing women for the sake of family honor, it is most prominent in Islamic societies, and closely related to issues like the burka. Liberals think they’re being generous by sparing Islam criticism. Triumphalist Muslims see these same liberals as good dhimmi leaders who make sure their community does not “insult” Islam.

Honor-Shame Pathologies and 4th Generation Warfare

One of my colleagues with whom I discuss honor-shame issues is Doyle Quiggle, who in addition to his ability to think about what Daniel Lord Smail calls deep history (governed by honor-shame dynamics), also happens to work on military issues: COIN, Fourth Generation Warfare. He recently sent me the following query, which prompted me a formulation that brings together a number of threads of thought:

What aspects of your research and scholarship would you apply to help us reveal the honor dynamics of Somalia? 

The stubborn and irreducible pathology of conflict in Somalia must be accepted as an existential given. Failure to perceive this pathology and its generative sources condemns the analyst and operator to alienation from the primary psychological, social, economic, and security realities of this region.  That blindness will lead to fatal operational consequences, sooner or later. To operate effectively, let alone establish lasting communal stability in any part of this region, we must first see the pathology of conflict in this region for what it is, accept it, no matter how ugly it might be, and then attack its sources. Once exposed, this pathology is immediately seen to require an integrative “oncological” approach to killing both its tumors and its feeder cells.  However, the decisive operational question today is this: Do we continue to pursue a chemotherapeutic tactic (“paint & kill” drone strikes)? Or do we attempt to administer homeopathic remedies? Is the long-term strategy containment or stability?

A strategy of stability requires an organic, homeopathic approach. Paramount to this approach is co-opting local moral authority.  Local moral authority is used as a kind of homeopathy to kill the cancerous stem cells of Islamic extremism and jihad by use of their own pathogens.

[For further elaboration framing the problem, see below.]

My response:

I’d study the pathologies of honor-shame, i.e. the cases when warrior/stratified, zero-sum, cultures find themselves faced with a more powerful positive-sum culture and after losing repeated zero-sum encounters, instead of adapting, going negative-sum: I’d rather lose more and drag you down in the shit than let you win; I’ll even sacrifice myself/honor/family just to make you miserable.

The classic case of this is the Arab-Israeli conflict where, in response to losing a hard-zero-sum war with Israel, the Arabs were in such denial — recognize Israel? admit defeat? impossible! — that they turned the Arab refugees from their lost war into weapons in a longer war against the Zionist entity. (The original meaning of Nakba/catastrophe was coined by the refugees about what Arab leaders had inflicted on them.)

Take the Proleptic Dhimmi Test: Replace Zionist with Caliphater

I am currently reading about the excellent and depressing research of David Collier into the Palestinian Solidarity Commission, England’s largest and most “prestigious” “pro-Palestinian” group with Jeremy Corbyn and Ilan Pappe on their board.

He quotes one of PSC’s activists, Tony Gratrex:

The Zionists’ militarist mindset is evidently motivated by the ethnocentric myths of Jewish victimhood. World-conquering Neocon-Zionist belligerence is driven in large part by the religious adherence to the official propaganda of the victors of World War II.

As I read it, I recognized the classic projective conversion to which some, at times too many, fall prey in projecting their own desire for world dominion onto others. This is what the Nazis did with their “warrant for genocide,” the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the Jihadis do today with the same text, much embroidered with their own deft touches. Is this Gratrex’s secret desire? Not really my business. Is it the open desire of Jihadis whom Tony joins in attacking their common foe, Zionism? You bet.

Then an interesting mental exercise occurred to me: reverse the referents.

The Islamist’s militarist mindset is evidently motivated by the ethnocentric myths of Muslim victimhood. World-conquering Caliphater belligerence is driven in large part by the religious adherence to the official propaganda of the losers of World War II.

That, alas, is a pretty accurate statement, to which one might add the role that an own-goal, lethal Western journalism, obsessed with images of Muslim victims of Israeli violence, contributed to that sense of global victimization.

But it would be unthinkable in the Western public sphere today, to openly make such an observation, despite the widespread tolerance for the projective meme of Israeli/Jewish malevolence. Imagine Tony, or his fellow cultists at PSC like Falk, or Pappe, or Corbyn, tolerating the very mention of so broad-stroked and conspiratorial statement about Muslims. Just kidding.

Imagine Theresa May saying it. Not likely, until she takes Melanie Phillips as an advisor on these matters.

Why? “Because it would be Islamophobic, and offend many Muslims.”

As for the scurrilous attacks on the Jews… “deplorable, but let’s not forget freedom of speech.”

What If…?

What If…?

What if “right-wing” Israel is right about why the peace process has failed?

What if negotiations repeatedly failed because the Palestinians used every occasion to demand concessions from Israel and broke them off rather than reciprocate?

What if, when Palestinians say “the Occupation,” they mean all Israel?

Does it make sense to use language like, “the whole world thinks the occupation is the problem”? and wring one’s hands over the (imagined) loss of viability of the (imagined) two-state solution?

And then attack us?

What if the reason that the peace process has failed for so long is because Westerners (including Israel) think positive-sum, and Palestinian Arabs play hard zero-sum?

They want it all, and so do their jihadi brethren the world over – infidels must be dhimmi, starting with Israel.

What if Israel is fighting a common enemy with you liberals and progressives, Caliphaters who want to subject or convert infidels the world over?

Why would you side with your enemy against us?

What if your jihadis are watching and studying the deeds of our jihadis, to turn them against you?

Does it make sense for you to cheer them on when they’re hitting us, and then wonder why they’ve hit you?

Does it make any sense to desire a two-state solution, passionately, and, when one side acts in bad faith, you take his side against the side that did try, did sacrifice, and lost big in the failed deal(s)?

Zionist propaganda, you say? Perhaps. And you’ll find no lack of Jews and Israelis eager to confirm your disdain. But given that most of your information replicates Palestinian propaganda, that should hardly disqualify it as a source.

What if it’s not just a “right-wing” point of view as you’re told, but a realistic one, unhappily accepted by liberals and progressives who refuse to be seduced by unrealistic hopes, and who actually cherish and want to protect progressive values, endangered by misplaced trust in enemies of those values?

Do you help yourself by dismissing our war narrative as useless and adopting the Palestinian one? Or should you at least run through a “what if ‘right wing’ Jews are right” scenario.

Imagine all the people… getting it badly wrong….

Nah, emperor’s new clothes scenarios are just kid’s stories, not real.

And if you decline the invitation to even do that “what if…”, are you not becoming a proleptic dhimmi who rejects speech – even thought – that might upset Triumphalist Muslims?

Own-Goal Cognition, anyone?

“And all the blame goes to…”: Sisyphus, Kerry and the Failure of “Peace” Negotiations

Two articles and two blogposts have just appeared that tackle the failed peace negotiations conducted by John Kerry during the second Obama Administration. One, by a participant (with a long history of participation in these efforts going back to 1993), “Inside the Black Box of Israeli-Palestinian Talks” by Michael Herzog, in American Interest, and the other, a strong critique of the first piece, by Raphael Ahren, the diplomatic correspondent of the Times of Israel, and two extensive blogposts, by Yaacov Lozowick, and David Gerstman at Legal Insurrection that criticize the widespread lack of interest of the mainstream media on this revealing text, in part, they suspect, because it doesn’t indict Bibi.

Like most diplomatic issues written by negotiators, one has to read between the lines at what is not said. The issues here are crucial, since much of the logic that this information undermines, lies at the heart of Kerry’s final maneuvers to condemn the settlements as the roadblock to peace, and the vast international consensus – diplomatic and journalistic – that stand behind him.

For Herzog, there’s enough blame to go around:

All parties made mistakes, each exacerbating the others’ and contributing to a negative dynamic.

For Ahrens, Herzog’s piece is a “politely devastating critique” that “skewers Kerry for dooming the peace talks.”

What strikes me in reading Herzog is how much – despite his explicit conclusions – he provides an abundance of clear evidence for the fact that (as Lozowick also notes) the real reason the negotiations failed is because the Palestinians  never had any intention of negotiating. So blaming Kerry (or Bibi) for “dooming the peace talks,” is something like blaming a hospital emergency team for blowing the resuscitation of a mannequin.

If there’s blame to apportion here it’s a) the Palestinians for never negotiating in good faith, and b) the Americans, especially Kerry, for blaming Israel for killing the mannequin,  and c) the Israelis like Herzog for never catching on including (apparently) still now.

In reviewing this material, let me lay out what I think were the negotiating strategies of the sides for the last 25 years, a perspective repeatedly borne out by events, including the information in Herzog’s article:

(NB: I’m a medievalist, trained to piece together fragments of evidence into a larger picture. When the CIA launched after the WWII they tapped medievalists (including one of my professor, Joseph Strayer, specifically because of this training. So maybe I see more because I know less. Certainly, in these matters, I am far from familiar with the details.)

The Americans believed (to a man/woman?) that if only they could get the Palestinians and Israelis to agree on a deal that gave the Palestinians a state on the other side of the “’67 borders,” that would bring peace and solve a whole bunch of problems in the Middle East – linkage – including saving Israel from deciding between democratic or apartheid. They formally adopted a cognitively egocentric notion that the Palestinians really wanted a state, but needed to get the best possible deal to “sell it” to their own people. The way to get it was to pressure the Israelis to make concessions that would bring the Israelis into (what they imagined was) “the zone of possible agreement [between Israelis and Palestinians]” (Indyk), and then go to the Palestinians with a great deal (from the US point of view), and thereby achieve the holy grail of Nobel Peace Prizes, the deal that really is so obvious, you should be able to solve it with an email.

The American position represents a dogmatic extension of Oslo Logic after it blew up in Israel’s face in 2000 (Y2K Mind). It takes as a given that the Palestinians will accept a deal +/- on the “1967 borders,” but they can’t concede too much or they’ll lose face with their people. Applying that “reading” to the negotiations since 2000 (Bush/Condoleezza, Obama/Clinton/Kerry) has a) guaranteed US and Israeli failure, b) guaranteed Palestinian and Jihadi success. Once committed to the paradigm and its expectations, the US was incapable of realizing they were being played.

The Israelis wanted to appease the Americans, and I suspect most of the actual negotiators (Herzog/Livni) agree with the American position that a) peace is urgently needed, and b) believe peace is within their grasp, like in 20o0… “so close.” (Certainly Herzog shows no awareness of what’s available at PalWatch or MEMRI on Palestinian attitudes off the negotiating record.) Because they do want a deal soon for fear of the demographic timebomb, the Israelis are ready to make many of concessions, both short-term (slowdown of settlement activity, release of prisoners) and long-term (division of Jerusalem).

But at the same time they know that they have limits to their concessions, not only on some key issues like refugee return and how Jerusalem is divide (already a pocketed concession), but also the damage to their position from making unreciprocated concessions, increasing the odds that this “peace deal” too will blow up in the face of the conceding side. Thus the Israelis fight over every detail to protect themselves from likely attacks from an eventual Palestinian state, while still making concessions to move the process along, to get, as even Indyk admitted they had, into the zone of possible agreement. Herzog expresses his confidence in the Palestinian’s commitment to finding a solution, despite all the counter-evidence, with a credulous humanitarian credo:

But whoever knows the issues in-depth realizes how crucial they are to both sides’ future. And those of us who have spent years at the negotiating table know how arduous and excruciating a journey is required of both sides if they are to find a sustainable balance encompassing all core issues (italics mine).

That “whoever” who “knows” does not include the current crop of Palestinian “leaders” and their negotiators. On the contrary they’re not at all interested in finding a sustainable balance. No arduous journeys for them.

Bibi’s Strategy:

  • Take it seriously.
  • Fight every detail to get the best acceptable deal,
  • Show good faith, accede wherever possible to American demands
  • Ask for reciprocity.
  • Put really good people to work on it, and follow the details closely.
  • Hope that, if/when things fail, they won’t get blamed.

The Palestinians are nowhere near the American’s “zone of possibility.” As long as they can pretend to the cognitive egocentrics on the other side that they are near, ready, desirous of a deal, however, negotiators will play along pretending to accept the notion of a positive-sum, give and take, deal. Indeed they will indignantly rebuke any challenge to their sincerity.

Erekat argued that this was natural given in his view Abbas’ moderate positions: “He doesn’t need to convince Abbas. Abbas accepts the two-state solution [sic], recognizes Israel [sic] and does not build settlements [alas! He should be building settlements for Palestinian Refugees stuck in camps].”

But they know that their job is to make the process as difficult as possible, to give the impression they’ll make concessions without making any real concessions (eg their phony recognition of Israel). They want above all not to reach an agreement, without being blamed for the failure of negotiations. If, in the process, they can use the Americans to get unreciprocated concessions, great. The US wants them so badly to participate that the Palestinians can make just “sitting down to negotiate” a major concession on their part to match say, Israelis releasing prisoners. If they get blamed, go nuts:

The thing that really drove [Abbas] nuts,” Ashrawi relates, “is that they blamed him for the talks’ collapse. In his view, it’s all the Israelis’ — and the Americans’ — fault.”

The Palestinians are in no hurry because the suffering of their people, as long as Israel can be blamed, is a bargaining chip (like a non-funny remake of Blazing Saddles, “don’t no one come near or I’ll shoot this nigger”). They feel no need to make any actual concessions to Israel (that they wouldn’t carry through on anyway) because they feel time is on their side and they can wait. They know that Israel won’t kick the Palestinians out and can’t digest them; that the situation is a timebomb of ethnic warfare which will destroy everyone. (That’s why some Palestinians call for nuking the whole area.) And, anyway, the negotiator’s job is not to create a Palestinian state (pace “international opinion”), but to destroy an Israeli state. If they deviate from that task, if they make a deal with the Israelis, they’d lose face, be accused of betraying the sacred Arab-Muslim cause, and have tea with Sadat.

So they’re willing to “play along” with negotiations as long as the US pressures Israel. Abbas claims his side had “already exhausted its ability to be flexible in past years and therefore that the main onus was not on him.” If the US can force deeply wounding concessions (Green Line including East Jerusalem) on Israel, then maybe they can appease the Jihadis whom they honor in Arabic, by assuring them this is a major step in the “Two Phase Plan” for the destruction of Israel. If they can’t, they can’t risk the humiliation of agreeing to accept a state of free infidels in Dar al Islam, so they’ll walk away from the table and brag to their Jihadis about how they said “No,” to the mighty Americans.

Abbas’ strategy:

  • insist on settlements as main problem and let Western cognitive egocentrists think you mean the Green Line not the shore line;
  • avoid being involved in negotiations as long as possible;
  • refuse any deal, avoid even responding to any deal;
  • negotiate on other tracks (Hamas, International Community), for the time the talks “fail” (i.e., the moment pressure is put on them);
  • blame Israeli settlements for the failure and get outraged when criticized.

European Schizoid Dissonance: The Calm of Appeasement

At the Balfour Declaration centenary conference convened by JCPA Tuesday, February 28, there was a particularly interesting juxtaposition during the first panel between remarks by Colonel Richard Kemp and Professor Julius Schoeps.

NB: the videos of the talks are now up.

In his talk, “Israel as a Strategic Asset to Britain“, Richard Kemp drew a striking contrast between two European attitudes towards Israel. On the one hand, there are those who see her as a remarkably successful loyal ally, crucial not only to Montgomery in 1940s, but even more today in the 21st century. On the other, there are those who repeatedly sacrifice Israel’s interests and side against her. His illustrative example concerns Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo, the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, who:

In 2009… visited Israel to study IDF tactics to apply to NATO operations in Afghanistan. He was particularly interested in Israeli tactics for fighting terror in civilian-populated areas. This visit came just weeks after the publication of the infamous Goldstone Report – which alleged that Israel had committed war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza.

The contrast was striking: within weeks of the European Parliament endorsing the report, the European Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee was visiting Israel, for the third time in four years, to study ethical methods for dealing with terrorist insurgencies without causing undue harm to civilians.

Apparently the Europeans find scolding Israel nearly irresistible, even though they know their criticism is not only untrue… but, it’s the opposite. Israel behaves better than even other Western armies; a fortiori than the jihadis they fight, whose cannibalistic strategies create civilian casualties among their own people.

Let’s call it (European) schizoid dissonance: holding two diametrically and significantly contradictory notions in one’s empirical and moral discourse at the same time. On the one hand, the (European) cultural elite – journalists, critics, public intellectuals, researchers, NGOs –conduct a conversation in which despising Israel holds an important place, in which they have flipped the symbol and insist on seeing an Israeli Goliath bullying a hapless Palestinian David. On the other hand, the military, the security people, the grown ups in charge, ask the Israelis to teach them how to limit casualties when the enemy uses civilians as shields and how to enhance their security. And that schizoid dissonance seems to hold more or less for all European countries.

No sooner had Kemp finished his remarks than the next speaker, Prof. Julius H. Schoeps, the Director of the Moses Mendelssohn Centre of European Jewish Studies at Potsdam University, made remarks that seemed to illustrate the contradictions Kemp had just highlighted. After asserting German support for Israel and good will towards the morally admirable Zionist dream, he concluded by sternly urging “the Israeli state to prevent the national religious settler movement from carelessly and recklessly squandering the Zionist legacy of the founding fathers…” darkly hinting that a failure to do so would alienate Europeans and especially Germans.

On the “Clash of Civilizations” in the Era of Trump

[NB: I wrote this last November, but forgot to post it. Better late than never, and given the reaction to Trump’s Executive Order about admitting people from seven Muslim-majority nations as feeding global Jihad, it seems still highly relevant.]

Pundits are worried that Donald Trump and team – Bannon, Flynn, Pompeo – are “bringing back” the clash of civilizations (back to 2001). This regression, we are told, is a dangerous move that will play right into the hands of the Jihadis. Notes Fawaz Gerges:

What Trump and his followers do not get is that their inflammatory rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS and Al Qaeda, who labor hard to convince skeptical Muslims that the West is waging a war against Islam.

Indeed this sentiment inspired both Bush’s famous “Islam is a religion of peace” speech within a week of 9-11, and Obama’s aversion to any association of Islam with violence. “ISIS is not Islamic.” It goes along with hand phrases like, “We can’t go to war with 1.6 billion Muslims.”

Much has been written of late about the dangers of exaggerating things. Democrats/ Liberals/ Progressives exaggerate the flaws of their “right-wing” opponents, abusing terms like racism and xenophobia till it ceases to move people. Republicans/ Conservatives/ Realists paint with a broad brush, tarring all Islam with the stain of Jihadi extremism.

And the danger here involves not merely the outsiders who cease to respond to the exaggerated rhetoric intended to stampede them against those designated as “beyond the pale.” It also carries the danger of convincing true believers that the sky really is falling. In this sense, Trump may have won in part because his foes had so abused terms like racist and Islamophobe that some voters even warmed to him because he so openly mocked their politically correct strictures. And in the wake of his stunning victory (unforeseen in part because the mainstream of news and commentary so believed their own pack rhetoric), we now have “progressives” alarmed, even panicked, at the prospect of such a terrible man inhabiting the White House, a man so beyond the pale, that normalizing him would be Orwellian “newspeak.”

And yet the same folks who consider “normalizing Trump” an act of newspeak, would not dream of identifying the claim “Islam is a religion of peace,” as a variant on a central theme of newspeak: War means peace, peace means war. In fact Western infidels have formulated the problem of Islamic violence in a way that guarantees it won’t be understood, much less effectively addressed. Right now, certainly since the turn of the millennium, outside dealings with violent Muslims only made things worse

However well-intentioned, or defensive we infidels might be, whatever we do, we make it worse: if we appease, we invite further demands; if we push back, we elicit further hostility. And while we fail miserably to recognize danger and menace coming from without we consume our energies with internecine warfare between “left” and “right”: our tough cops assault our nice cops for being self-destructive fools, while our nice cops assault tough cops for their obscene and atrocious belligerence: each side correctly predicting the failure of the others’ strategies.

Meantime their tough cop (Jihadis) terrify, and their nice cops (Summoners) show us the path to proleptic dhimmitude, to submission. And the first and most important submission of the dhimmi is not to blaspheme, not to criticize, not to shame a Muslim publicly. Accusations of Islamophobia currently play the role of making substantive criticism of currents of Muslim religiosity impossible.

Thus what began as respectful, politically-correct concerns about not offending others, when applied to Muslims, has become so charged with anxiety (and fear) that anyone who addressed the more problematic aspects of Muslims response to the modern world, gets marginalized. As a result, serious discussion about “radical” and “moderate” Islam, and their relationships to each other and infidels, cannot take place, even though they’re key to responding to the challenge of global Jihad.

Reuel Mark Gerecht offers a fine example of the rhetoric that has made discussion so difficult. Even as he faults Obama for failing to address the issue at all, he then turns on the “anti-Islam crowd:

However, I do have a really big problem when certain individuals attempt to paint Islam, in all its 1400-plus years of glorious complexity, as a deranged civilization and faith, whose denizens and practitioners are somehow uniquely capable of violence because they are hard-wired to do so, via the Koran, the holy law, and whatever else the anti-Islam crowd thinks makes Muslims tick. This is just historically atrocious. It is often obscene.”

“Anti-Islam crowd thinks… deranged faith… Koran makes Muslims hard-wired for violence tick… just historically atrocious… often obscene.”

I’ve long learned to beware the term “just” used dismissively. It has a knack for pulling the rug out of a discussion: the anti-Islam crowd’s view of Islam and Muslims is just awful and tasteless, don’t listen to them. And yet, when one subjects Islam, Muslims, to historical scrutiny, it turns out that on just this subject of war and violence, Islam has the most expansive armory of sacred war phrases, which Mahdi warlords and their mujehaddin have used them, generation after generation, Mujadded after Mujadded, to wage war on Allah’s enemies. Any impartial assessment of the historical record on religious war and violence – thoughts and deeds – would fairly rank Islam at the top of the list in its intensity and recurrence. “Islam is a religion of peace,” as historical generalizations go, is about as misleading as one can possibly get to newspeak.

The Qur’an, the sayings, and the law in Islam all give a great deal of attention to non-believers – kufar, those who cover the truth – and much of it is distinctly hostile. War on the infidel qua unsubjected infidel, plays a role in Muslim thinking that has no parallel in any religion in recorded history known to me. For some Muslims (how many?) Jihad a religious vocation: it is a way of proving one’s fervor for Allah. Indeed it would seem fair to venture that historically and currently, Muslims have a lot of trouble dealing with the “infidel other.”

What attitudes and range of behavioral norms govern Muslim interaction with non-believers, those living within and outside of Dar al Islam? How to deal with dissenters and apostates, those whose voices challenge and undermine the faith’s hegemony? Just how important is it to Muslim identity that Islam’s destiny is Muslim rule over all other, false, religions? Where there was Dar al Harb (realm of war), there shall be Dar al Islam (submission). How many Muslims teach and how many learn that the meaning of Muhammad’s urging wala wa bara means “love your fellow Muslims and hate the infidels”?

How painful is the condition of Muslim believers in a modern world that subjects everything, Muhammad and the Qur’an included, into the same critical matrix. Fair treatment for Islam would be very embarrassing. it has thrown Moses and Jesus and their respective documents? And in what complex ways do Muslims deal with that pain? When the simple, arousing, absorbing, deadly appeal of jihadi triumphalism reaches young Muslims passionate about their faith, who can resist, how many are they, and what do they do to shut down the venue for violence.

These are all legitimate observations from the perspective of a free West, indeed one might even argue, indispensable observations. And yet, when weighed in the balance of Gerecht’s judgment, these historically-based observations, come out on the side of “atrocious and obscene.” It’s not that this is all there is to Islam, but that in its history, cases of hostility to religious “others” has led to “deranged [and destructive] episodes, repeatedly giving birth to “practitioners… uniquely capable of violence because they [we]re hard-wired to do so, via the Koran, the holy law,” the hadith, the histories, the tales of glory, the teaching of the global Caliphate. This is historically accurate. It’s Verités de la Palice. If it is “obscene,” one should ask: In whose eyes the offense?

The ability to disagree, to listen, to self-criticize, to empathize with other perspectives, has played a key role in success of civil polities. To talk about real issues, relevant issues, and try and understand them as best we can, is almost too self evident an activity to need defending. And yet, now, if one discusses such matters, rumblings of Islamophobia, of racism, of paranoia, of obscene and atrocious pronouncements, of a racist lack of empathy for the marginalized, for the not-privileged. This dynamic has led to a radical misunderstanding of the violent Muslim forces at play in these matters, initially concerning Israel, now a global phenomenon, come home to roost in your campuses, and even your halls of power.

Take a particularly critical topic: the emergence of sanctified suicide terror, the most potent weapon of global jihad in the 21st century. Historically speaking, one of the critical moments for apocalyptic movements, is when they go public. History is littered with the corpses of slain messiahs, including the most famous one of all. Most authorities throttle even peaceful millennial enthusiasm, a fortiori, millennial hostility. So when an apocalyptic death cult that believes they must destroy the world to save it appears, societies mobilize in opposition.

(Today, the vast majority of those killed by suicide bombing are Muslims.)

And yet, quite to the contrary, the first suicide-terror attacks were greeted with such unanimity on the Arab/Muslim street, that even the most staid theologians in Cairo, yielded to the pressure and legitimized both suicide and attacking civilians. The meme gave birth to a movement; the revenge poetry of pink mist. Certainly this is a tragedy for Muslims, who today, by far, suffer the most from this apocalyptic weapon unleashed upon their world.

The behavior of the West, however, was still more unusual. Rather than protesting this moral monstrosity, this paranoid hatred for a demonized “other” for whom one has no empathy – the Nazi formula – which was now reappearing in Islam, which threatened planetary peace itself. Western progressives, reacting to lethal reports of a “Jenin massacre,” cheered the Palestinian martyrs on, some wore mock belts in solidarity. In the history of civilizational-suicidal gestures, that ranks high, although the last 16 years have been very high in such incidents.

In the history of the millennial movement of global jihad, that moment in the early aughts (Spring, 2002), when infidels cheered on the most ominous new development in the war on themselves, will stand out as a major turning point. In their eagerness to believe in the IDF as Nazi, they, like the Arab theologians, threw out basic principles of humanity. It was a stunning loss of empathy for people who, only two generations earlier, had a special claim on European empathy.

And for whom did the progressives who shouted “We are Hamas!” in European capitals have empathy? For the Palestinian “people,” for their cause. The people whose culture had produced Hamas’ martyrdom operations, in which the apocalyptic meme of “pink mist” arose, designating that magic moment after explosion when your own blood mixes with the blood of your victims, and your soul ascends to heaven and your victims’ descend to hell. A case study of paranoid violence against an utterly demonized “other,” “martyrs” with no trace of empathy. So instead of identifying the phenomenon of martyrdom operation as a massive social problem, and more specifically, an tragic failure in even the most elementary forms of empathy, it cheered on the death cult as resistance, and protested when the autonomous infidel, under attack, defended.

Of course if Gerges and others were concerned with not radicalizing the Muslim world, they would have spoken out long ago against the own-goal lethal journalism that Western journalists and “progressive activists” have engaged in over the last decade and a half, depicting the Israelis as (Muslim) child-killers and the Western militaries as killers of hundreds of thousands of Muslims – when indeed and alas, Muslims kill many more Muslims than Westerners do.

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Haaretz passed on publishing an earlier draft of this response to a piece it had published. #Shocker

It was subsequently published in a shortened form at The Algemeiner.

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Richard Landes

Eva Illouz wrote a dramatic New Year’s piece for Ha-aretz, in which she accuses fellow Jews who support Trump of falling prey to messianic fantasies and “betraying Jews, Jewish history and humanity,” and claiming for the “liberal Jews” like herself, the sole mantle of “authentic opposition to anti-Semitism.” Invoking Freud’s definition of the uncanny (das Unheimliche), or the anguishing sense that behind the familiar lies something profoundly foreign and menacing, she claims that “the [Trump-riddled] world at the beginning of 2017 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.”

This striking image of uncanny recognition among the familiar, so brilliantly explored in the Body Snatchers, reminded me of my own experience of the uncanny, back in 2000, at a time where, dissident that I was, I found my home on the left. Then, suddenly, I realized that fellow Jews – good, smart, imaginative Jews, people I loved to talk with, argue with, struggle with – had suddenly become deaf to the cries of their own people, faced with the unleashing of a terrifying hatred. When you told them that every criticism of Israel that they leveled was true many times over among our enemies, they indignantly declared, “Don’t compare Israel with the Arabs.” Instead, they rushed to announce “as a Jew,” that they abhorred the abominations committed by Israel.

Somehow, for these uncanny Jews, their moral urgency about Israeli crimes went hand in hand with a corresponding reluctance to discuss Palestinian behavior. “Don’t change the subject.” “What choice do they have?” “Don’t demonize the Palestinian people.” “One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.” “We’re worse terrorists.”

And yet, within this matrix of alternating moral indifference to Palestinians (and other Jihadis), and hysteria about Israelis, arose a reckless cognitive disorientation, uncannily sustained by alter-juifs who felt compelled to denounce their own people. Palestinian hostility, unreported, unexamined, unrecognized for the horrendous, genocidal hatreds it harbored, could be inserted into a post-colonial narrative in which Israel was the colonial, racist, Goliath and the Palestinians the indigenous victims, the plucky Davids or, alternatively, the victims of Israel-Nazi genocide.

Thus genocidal Jihadis could masquerade in the global public sphere as heroic “resistance fighters,” struggling for “human rights.” Protesters of Israeli brutality proudly proclaimed their identification with genocidal Jihadi groups.

We are Hamas London 2009

And if these lethal narratives of Israelis and images of Palestinian suffering inflamed the West, driving even good Jews to distraction, then how much the more did it inflame Muslims the world over. They confirmed again and again, the global Jihadi narrative: Jews were killing innocent Muslims with impunity! The final battle against those who wish to destroy Islam – Israel and the West – has begun. Progressive leftist, alter-juifs, and Jihadis shared a common messianic enemy: destroy Israel (and American hegemony) for world peace!

For-World-Peace-Israel-Must-Be-Destroyed

The uncanny at the turn of the millennium, then, went far beyond the progressive Jews and their “friends.” For, alas, this exercise in self-laceration, of prophetic rebuke of one’s own people under attack, took place in the cyberspace-enhanced global public sphere. There malevolent minds, enthralled at any news of Jews (a fortiori sovereign Jews) behaving badly, eagerly devoured the uncanny “self-”accusations of “righteous Jews.” After 2000, comparisons of Israel with the Nazis went mainstream on the progressive Left. In the new replacement narrative, the Al Durah icon “replaced, erased,” that of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto, just as Gaza replaced that ghetto in the compassionate heart of haters of Zion. The Israeli Goliath – already an uncanny image –morphed into the Israeli Nazi: the secular Antichrist. This marriage of pre-modern sadism and post-modern masochism, this Antichrist Israel, was sanctified at Durban in 2001, where the cult of Al Durah presided as patron saint.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Four days later, 9-11 brought a shower of Schadenfreude, from professed lovers of freedom.

Of course, the fiercest foes of Jewish freedom, from the supersessionists, to the most delirious Judeophobes, embraced this replacement narrative with glee. And, insofar as they thought themselves progressive, this glee worked much to their own damage and to the damage of a progressive and peaceful world. When, in 2002, drunk on a wave of lethal journalism about the IDF “massacre” at Jenin, demonstrators wore mock suicide belts to cheer on the Palestinian “resistance,” they actually helped glorify a terrible new apocalyptic weapon, blight of the new century, soon to be turned on their own people and other Muslims. Tony Judt’s response to the wave of outrage at reports of Israel’s “massacre” at Jenin, spoke for many a progressive Jew: in the pages of the NYRB, he complained that Israel’s misbehavior puts innocent, good, Jews, like himself in danger! In his estimation, it was time for Israel, relic of nationalist and imperialist currents of the past, to retire from history.

The uncanny horror first happened for me in 2000 – witnessing the reaction of Jewish progressives to the sight of their own people – the only sovereign Jews in the world – fighting off a suicidally vicious Palestinian onslaught and joining together with movements that celebrated those hatreds. Rather than acknowledge the failure of Israel’s good faith efforts at a positive-sum peace, when faced with deeply nurtured hatred, and their own disastrous advice to ignore belligerent signs in the PA and go on with the “peace process,” “liberals” preferred turning against the “right-wingers” whom Israelis elected to clean up the disaster that they themselves had wrought with the Oslo “peace” process.

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When Eva Illouz deplores today’s “right wing” pro-Trumpers as people for whom “Nationalism has replaced historical memory as the nexus of Jewish institutions and Jewish identity,” she might think about the several times that Jewish internationalism has done just that; these are “foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures” we have, alas, “seen before.” When she claims that “only liberal Jews in Israel and in the democratic world can claim to be the authentic opponents of anti-Semitism,” she might consider the decades of terrifying, uncanny, unrepentant behavior among those (claiming to be) liberals, behavior that has enabled and globally promoted the most poisonous of Jew-hatreds, thereby feeding global Jihad, the worst imperialist movement of our day.

If, instead of penning alarmed and divisive rants that prolong the earthquake about which she warns, she were to introspect, she might find the empathy to understand her fellow Jews who find the persistence of progressive Jews and Israelis in promoting anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the global public sphere uncanny, something that has terrified those of us who do track anti-Semitism, over the centuries and millennia.

At the same time, she might find the self criticism to consider how those who reject the global left’s moral leadership are not deplorables, and why the decision of her fellow progressive Jews to partner with wolves in progressive clothing who grotesquely accuse Israel of genocide, has made them just as uncanny to their fellow Jews who disagree, as these critics – some now Trumpists from “anger and despair” – are unrecognizable to them.

Indeed, she might even ponder the possibility that Obama’s policies, perceived by many, including some pretty smart people, as civilizationally suicidal, might have contributed to a popular abreaction, without which a candidate like Trump could never have “taken” with the American public, including with some Jews.

Then, in that silence and opening borne of self-reflection, maybe sane, progressive, tribal, Jewish voices might arise above the din of civilizational madness that grows louder every year in this troubled dawn of the new millennium.